Council reverses funding decision as it backs ‘high profile project’ at cricket club

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A decision to deny a cricket club funding has been reversed after five councillors took a stand against their authority’s original verdict.Downham Stow Cricket Club, which was formed in 2020 as part of a merger between existing teams in Downham and Stow Bardolph, is currently carrying out fundraising in a bid to expand its facilities.The club, which has around 150 members aged between six and 76, hopes to build a larger all-weather training area to cater for its needs both now and in the future.Members first approached Downham Town Council in November asking for funding, but at a meeting during that month, councillors voted against providing a grant.They came to the conclusion that they did not wish to give cash to an organisation that was “outside the area”.However, in the time since, five town councillors – Anna Incorvaia, Valerie Leivers, Christopher Perkin, Barrie Wiles and Alisha Buxton – requested that the decision be reversed so that it could be reconsidered.At Tuesday’s full council meeting, 11 councillors voted in favour of reconsidering the decision, while five voted against.Subsequently, after hearing from a member of the cricket club, ten councillors approved a motion to offer a grant of £1,000. Five voted against this.Michael Fairey, the chair of the club, told the meeting that the council’s original decision “took us by surprise” due to the fact that 80% of those who play for the cricket teams live in Downham.He said: “It is not just about members and those that play cricket. It is about the family members, siblings, grandparents, that come and watch the games that we play.”Making reference to a conversation between councillors earlier in the meeting in which they discussed the criteria for selecting groups for financial grants, Mr Fairey added: “I feel we tick all the boxes.”He said the club is currently having to turn people away due to a lack of facilities, and hopes the expansion will help to create more space for them.“Community wellbeing” and “getting children away from computers and tablets” were also cited as positives the club provides.“Every little bit helps. It will be a game-changer for cricket in West Norfolk,” Mr Fairey added.“It will certainly be a very high profile project when it is delivered.”Cllr Leivers had earlier said the council should reverse its decision, and argued that one should never have been made in November due to a lack of information.“A great deal of effort is made by many in the town to promote football. However, we should be encouraging our residents – young and old – to play other sports,” she said.“We very much hope that tonight, a reversal should be made.”Cllr Buxton said the cricket club has 17 teams, describing that as “a heck of a lot”.“This is something to be proud of, not to be ignored, and I hope the council reverses this,” she said.

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